4 Tips for Better Relationships with Your EMS Partners
Data from EMS providers can be vital to your hospital system and should not get overlooked. Not only is it required for your pre-hospital data submissions, but it also helps provide helpful insight into the patient’s care before he or she arrives, helping you and your team to plan and implement a better patient journey. Additionally, EMS data helps enrich your trauma registry, and paints a fuller picture of what exactly is going on in your community, allowing your trauma center to create more efficient intervention plans, and track what is and isn’t working.
Pre-hospital data from your EMS providers is key in not only helping your hospital run more efficiently, but in proactively improving the health of your community. Open lines of communication between hospitals and EMS can break down barriers and increase education on both ends of the continuum of care. But how do we get there?
Tip 1: Don’t Be Afraid to Take the First Step
Knowing where to start might feel a big intimidating, but it can be accomplished with simple steps, and it all starts with reaching out to your EMS providers. We get so busy in our daily workflows and processes, we often don’t think beyond our own walls to reach out to our partners who are out in the field. Start the communication with something simple, like possibly asking them, “What is one thing that could make patient hand-off easier?”
They may say something that is surprisingly simple and easily attainable, like a better process to transfer patient data or a more efficient way to alert hospitals that a patient is on the way. Small changes can add up to a big difference, and addressing EMS pain points where you can actually benefits your team as well, from the ED all the way to trauma registrar and billing. Once you’ve started addressing the most obvious areas for change, you can build on that momentum to have more in-depth conversations about other potential improvements.
Tip 2: Create a Collaborative Culture
Now that the conversation is started, really open the doors. Do everything you can to chip away at any “us versus them” mentality and improve communication between EMS and your ED.
EMS agencies should be treated as more than just a partner; they should be treated like they are a large part of your healthcare system family. And they are; statistics show that 20-30% of patients arrive at hospitals via ambulance. The number of patients in your ED of course represents revenue for your hospital, and the choice of where to take a patient is often made by the EMS agency.
Ensuring your processes respect EMS input and time – like honoring CathLab alerts, meeting EMS teams at the door of the ED, and reviewing ePCR info they’ve sent ahead before they arrive – not only benefit your working relationship with pre-hospital providers, but improve the care your patients receive. Using tools to share back patient data and outcomes with your EMS agencies also further benefits your working relationship, and helps them provide better care in the field.
When providers feel a part of the team, they are more likely to recommend your facility to patients and other EMR providers. When you involve them in your hospital process planning and show how data benefits all parties involved, it is a winning effort.
Tip 3: Sharing is Caring
Typically, you’d never say “sharing is caring” in a hospital setting. Of course, here, instead of encouraging the spread of disease, you are encouraging the spread of information. Data points from the entire spectrum of care – from the moment the call is received to the time the physician implements a diagnosis in the hospital – can help paint a more complete picture of what is and is not working.
For example, the ability for EMS providers to share their patient’s pre-hospital conditions en route to the hospital, or in an easily transferrable digital form, saves hospital staff so much time and energy from having to go down that investigation path again. No more copying over information from paper records or tracking down missing forms; time-saved in hand-off can make life-and-death differences in patient outcome, not to mention directly impact important hospital measurable.
Similarly, EMS providers benefit from the data you collect and can share back with them such as outcomes data, billing information, and more. Seeing what might have been missed can improve care for the next call, and there is no substitute for real-world learning. Closing the feedback loop on a patient’s outcome helps EMS improve their own processes, understanding of the community, and training plans.
Easy-to-use software tools like ESO Health Data Exchange are designed specifically for hospital and EMS communication, and can make this two-way communication more reliable and faster. Patient information can be shared securely, in real-time, and in an easily auditable way.
Tip 4: Communication is Key to Continued Success
Now that you’ve got a good momentum going, it’s important to keep those lines of communication with your EMS partners open. Consider ways you can begin to integrate them more into your process discussions. Do you have annual or quarterly meetings open to them? Do you have a way of discussing what is working, what isn’t, what improvements can be made?
It can be intimidating to open up the floor for comments, but they may be having a great idea that could make a world of difference for everyone. Sometimes just meeting can help make them feel more involved and you can both build a relationship and understanding of each other’s roles. Make it informal and relaxed.
There are many reasons why hospitals should care about improving their working relationships with EMS agencies. Not only can it directly impact your revenue with the number of patients the ambulances bring in, it can make real improvements to your processes and overall patient care. Sharing data and insights can offer learning opportunities for all involved, while improving the sense of teamwork. By taking the time and energy to reach out and work together, you’re building the foundation for a stronger collaboration for years to come.